Debussy and the Fragment
Rather than solid frames, some less than perfect aesthetic objects have permeable membranes which allow them to diffuse effortlessly into the everyday world. In the parallel universes of music and literature, Linda Cummins extols the poetry of such imperfection. She places Debussy's work within a tradition thriving on anti-Aristotelian principles: motley collections, crumbling ruins real or fake, monstrous hybrids, patchwork and palimpsest, hasty sketches, ellipses, truncated beginnings and endings, meandering arabesques, irrelevant digressions, auto-quotations. Sensitive to the intermittences of memory and experience and with a keen ear for ironic intrusion, Cummins draws the reader into the Western cultural past in search of the surprisingly ubiquitous aesthetic of the unfinished, negatively silhouetted against expectations of rational coherence. Theories popularized by Schlegel and embraced by the French Symbolists are only the first waypoint on an elaborately illustrated tour reaching back to Petrarch. Cummins meticulously applies the derived results to Debussy's scores and finds convincing correlations in this chiasmatic crossover.
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